2018 What Matters? TAS Year 7/8 Winner
Taroona High School
The roads, slick with the gold of a midday sun, carve their path in the tangle of green that rests in my vision. The unbroken blue of the ocean pushes on the horizon, threatening to break into the faded canvas of a clouded sky. The hand of the wind guides the branches of the blue gums as they dance, as if puppets on strings. I shift in my seat, bringing my hand to my chest before my mind sees what I’ve done. My heart pulses to the rhythm of the roads white lines as they fall beneath the cars tires. It seems too fast.
These thoughts happen so often now.
I wait for my breath to again bless me with its steady presence as the words of panic fade to self doubt in the numbed part of my mind. We roll onto a highway, the humming breath of racing tarmac snapping me out of my fall. These thoughts scare me. It scares me, when my head caves in, my vision blurs, and for a second, I know what it feels like to die. When my hands shake as they try to wipe tears from my eyes. And when, as I fall, all I can hear are the words of disapproval.
And that’s when I fall so much harder.
And when I’m here, in the present, sitting in the backseat watching lines fall beneath tires, I’m still away. And every time these thoughts come, I drift farther and farther from now.
We arrive later, as the sky begins to paint itself with the sullen colours of the afternoon. I sit on a camp chair, my feet tucked beneath me. A voice trickles through our canvas town, some words catching in the winter breeze, others through one ear, out the other. The campfire hisses as unwelcome hands shove kindle into its flame. Embers dance with dust kicked into shafts of light drinking shadows cast by our stained marque. The voice comes again. It asks if I want to go down to the beach, along a path worn away by rain and shoeless feet stained with the wilderness. A path with enough stones to send me flying a thousand times. And I want to say no, but I don’t want to say why. I’m afraid of what will happen.
I never could stand disappointment.
I hate the beach now, as I sit on the sand, watching surfboards glide over wind torn water. The voice comes again, telling me to join the fun. I hide my panic as I walk down to the water, my mind screaming with every step. Children of the ocean crawl onto the sand, soon to be pulled back into the arms of a never-ending blue. She sighs at me, the water does, a mess of hidden things trying to crush the fear, and the shame that comes with it. I take a breath before letting the sea cloak me in cool nothing. Trying not to let myself think about jellyfish, or death caused by the ingestion of salt water. The hypothermia and the fact that one in five people who drown are fourteen and under. And that my heartbeat, it seems too fast.
And these thoughts, they hit me like a train.
And I’m falling.
And waiting for someone to catch me.